Friday, July 22, 2011

Qatar: The dark horse of contemporary art

What country do you think is the biggest buyer in the contemporary art market? The United States? England? Perhaps even France? You could continue this guessing game for more than an hour and we are certain you would not have come up with the correct answer: Qatar. The small oil-rich country of Qatar is located in the Middle East and has a population hovering around 1.5 million, thus proving, without a doubt, that you don’t have to be big to be important. Over the past six years it is believed that Qatar has been behind most major sales and commissions of modern art. Just recently, Edward Dolman, the chair of Christie’s auction house of New York, was announced as an executive director in the office of the Sheikh. Dolman will join the board of trustees of the Qatar Museums Authority (QMA), who oversee many of the cultural initiatives of the country. Dolman stated, “Qatar is looking to deliver a series of exciting cultural projects in time for the World Cup in 2022.” The list of purchases and planned exhibitions to take place in Qatar is astounding. The country is planning a Jeff Koons exhibition and recently was part of a $310 million deal involving the purchase of 11 Rothkos. Other major acquisitions include works by Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Damien Hirst and William Hoare—quite the major accomplishment for a state that only technically became an independent country in the fall of 1971.

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